Category Archives: Arab-Israeli Conflict

Four Dimensional Jews, Two Dimensional Muslims: Fisking Rabbi Daniel Landes

I do the following fisking with some reluctance. Daniel Landes is a cousin and friend, whom I love and deeply admire. But this piece illustrates too many of the fundamental errors of a “liberal” Judaism attempting to solve problems that are clearly beyond its ken. So, alas, the following.

End the conflict – a Jewish imperative

We must not allow the messianisms of the religious right to cloud the call from our greatest religious authorities to return the territories, for the sake of saving life.

By Rabbi Daniel Landes | 17:52 07.04.14 |  1

For the religious Zionist Jew who wishes to grasp Israel’s present situation in a rational way, the hardest act is to shake off the messianisms that envelop his society – ranging from overt and imminent “end-time” scenarios, to the hazy metaphor of the “beginning of the dawn of our salvation.”

Of course, it also behooves anyone trying to grasp Israel’s present situation in a rational [sic] way, to become aware of the messianisms that envelop Israel’s enemies. Anyone who has not read at least one of the following, has no business discussing the conflict between Israel and its “neighbors” in terms of messianic tendencies.

Timothy Furnish, Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, Their Jihads, and Osama bin Laden (New York: Praeger, 2005)

Laurent Murawiec, The Mind of Jihad (New York: Oxford, 2006);

David Cook, Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2008);

Landes, Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience (NY: Oxford University Press), chap. 14;

Jean Pierre Filiu, Apocalypse in Islam (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2011).

This of course doesn’t even begin to get at the literature on groups like Hamas, who are “near” enemies, and whose apocalyptic delirium places them at the heart of the most dangerous form of apocalyptic belief: active cataclysmic (i.e., we are the agents of the catastrophic destruction that must cleanse the world of evil). That form of apocalyptic belief has, in the past, caused mega-deaths on the scale of tens of millions (Heaven on Earth, chaps 7 (Taiping, ca. 35 million), chap. 11 (Bolshevik, ca. 50 million), chap. 12 (Nazism, ca. 40 million), not to mention Maoism (ca. 70 million).

I think that any comparison of Jewish and Islamic messianism (I prefer the term millennialism), makes it clear that Jews have a far more extensive fire-wall against apocalyptic outbreaks, especially violent ones, than do the current generation of Muslims. It’s almost grotesque to blame our current impasse on Jewish messianists. Like so many people motivated by a belief that the solution to this conflict is somehow “in our hands,” Rabbi Landes is willing to make extraordinary sacrifices for peace (or even just to save lives). The tragedy here is that the only thing standing between the awful situation of “occupation” and the vastly more horrible situation of Jihadi civil war (à la Syria), is Israel’s continued control of the the West Bank. Painful sacrifices for peace is one thing, painful sacrifices that empower the worst kind of war, is quite another.

What they share and engender is an optimistic feeling of ultimate victory and security. We are assured that the Jews’ political failure and physical catastrophe is as finished as the Galut (Exile). But in the actual psyche of the religious Zionist, the persistently suppressed horror of that past repeating itself propels us further – into a delusional messianism that needs to be coupled to a secular rightwing ideology promising salvation by standing ‘strong’ and ‘proud’, that is confirmed by our increasing isolation.

Of course, we have left-wing variants of this misplaced messianic hope and confidence, expressed, for example, in J-Street and everything to its left (Olive Tree Initiative, Jewish Voice for Peace, etc.), who think that the genocidal threat against Jews is over, and all we have to do to appease the Arab/Muslim hatred of Jews is to give back the “territories” and then we’ll have Peace. This vision of a post-modern world in which we’ve all left behind the madness and superstition of the pre-modern world propels us further – into a delusional messianism that needs to be coupled with a secular left-wing ideology promising salvation by being ‘generous’ and ‘peace-loving’ and ‘accommodating’. You know, “tikkun olam” in support of BDS.

Arab Self-Criticism and Acknowledging the Real Enemy of the Arab People

I have complained repeatedly at my blog about the lack of self-criticism in the Arab world, the pathetic way that honor demands that all Arabs line up against Israel, even though Arab elites are the real enemy of the Arab people. So it’s with great pleasure that I post the following piece by Abdulateef al-Mulhim published in Arab News. On the other hand, since this is over a year old and has not had much of a visible impact on the discussion in the Arab world, maybe my complaints remain current. Indeed, in his latest piece, Al-Mulhim taunts the still-string irrational Arab hostility to Israel. Alas.

Arab Spring and the Israeli enemy

ABDULATEEF AL-MULHIM

Published — Saturday 6 October 2012

Thirty-nine years ago, on Oct. 6, 1973, the third major war between the Arabs and Israel broke out. The war lasted only 20 days. The two sides were engaged in two other major wars, in 1948 and 1967.
The 1967 War lasted only six days. But, these three wars were not the only Arab-Israel confrontations. From the period of 1948 and to this day many confrontations have taken place. Some of them were small clashes and many of them were full-scale battles, but there were no major wars apart from the ones mentioned above. The Arab-Israeli conflict is the most complicated conflict the world ever experienced. On the anniversary of the 1973 War between the Arab and the Israelis, many people in the Arab world are beginning to ask many questions about the past, present and the future with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The questions now are: What was the real cost of these wars to the Arab world and its people. And the harder question that no Arab national wants to ask is: What was the real cost for not recognizing Israel in 1948 and why didn’t the Arab states spend their assets on education, health care and the infrastructures instead of wars? But, the hardest question that no Arab national wants to hear is whether Israel is the real enemy of the Arab world and the Arab people.

Cogwar Reflections on the Danish Muhammad Cartoon Affair

In preparing to post the speech I gave to a Conference on Homeland Security about Cogwar this month, I found myself elaborating on several points beyond what the talk itself could bear. So I’ve moved some of the discussion to separate posts. The first concerns the Danish Cartoon Affair, which I used to illustrate the way that our news media and the intelligentsia in our public sphere failed to report on a crucial detail of the efforts of radical Imams to make the Danish Cartoons into an occasion to “spread Sharia” to Dar al Islam. As a result, a “teaching moment” for civil society and tolerance became a “bullying moment” for an aggressive, triumphalist religion of conquest.

From the global Jihadi perspective, this incident represented an effort to extend Sharia over areas of targeted Dar al Harb. Indeed since Khoumeini’s fatwa against Salmon Rushdie, global Jihadis have sought to get Westerners to adopt Sharia’s (heavily censuring) position on articulating anything they might consider blasphemous. In the most zealous of Muslim formulations, the depiction of Muhammad was forbidden to Muslims (for fear of idolatry). But here Islamist activists insisted that not even non-Dhimmi infidels (i.e., independent non-Muslims) have no right to violate (their strict reading of) Sharia. The stakes were high, both in terms of freedom of speech and in terms of the demopathic demand that infidels show respect for Islam, even as cartoons all over the Muslim world depicted the infidel (especially the Jew) in the most grotesque, hate-mongering fashion.

And yet, in the entire Muhammad Cartoon episode, only the blogosphere discussed at any length the three fake Muhammad Cartoons, by far the outrageous of the lot, the most blasphemous, created specifically by the radical preachers who wanted to inflame the Muslim Street: Muhammad as pig, as paedophile, as being raped by a dog while praying. These were “lethal narratives,” false tales told to make the Western infidel as odious to Muslims as possible, even as they used them to gain sympathy from Western liberals by illustrating the atmosphere of Islamophobia in which Western Muslims must live.

Victor Perez dévoile la malhonnêteté d’Enderlin et son anti-israelism

Charles Enderlin posted at his blog an essay on “Netanyahu’s Vision,” which reveals all the sloppy prejudices that he has internalized from an international consensus that it’s all Israel’s fault. Victor Perez at his blog, manages to draw out many of the elements the explain why Charles’ readership is so fully misinformed.

La vision idéologique de Charles Enderlin

Certains s’interrogent sur les raisons de la poussée de l’antisémitisme en Europe et principalement en France. Une hostilité systématique envers les Juifs cachée sous le paravent d’un anti-sionisme développé dans les médias nationaux par la bouche et/ou les écrits des journalistes à demeure, ou envoyés, en Israël.

L’envoyé permanent de France 2 à Jérusalem, pourtant juif, israélien et, paraît-il, ayant fait son service militaire ne déroge pas à la règle de ses employeurs. Charles Enderlin en bon petit soldat de la guerre larvée qui se joue contre l’Etat du peuple juif a une idéologie à soutenir.

La logique et le bon sens ont, vraisemblablement, déserté sa réflexion !

Dans un texte intitulé « La vision de Netanyahu », publié dans son blog, il confirme que tout le mal vient des Israéliens ! Il nous affirme qu’il « sera quasi impossible d’évacuer cent mille colons installés au cœur de la Cisjordanie, les 260000 autres étant regroupés dans des blocs d’implantations. En admettant que cela se fasse, resterait le problème de Jérusalem Est (…) »

If the World Really Wanted Peace in the Middle East…

Ted Belman reposted this article from Saul Singer from 2007. Imnsho it’s right on. Readers who bristle at these suggestions should ask themselves why they bristle, and what assumptions underly their reaction about who should make concessions. And finally, whether their acceptance of assumptions that the Israelis should be making the concessions stems from serious independent thought, or an unexamined acceptance of a Palestinian victim narrative that imposes itself not by empiric accuracy but… what?

Saul Singer advises How to pressure for peace.

I go further and suggest that the peace process has it bass-ackwards.

Rather than arm and train the terrorists (Fatah) it should force their disarmament.

Rather than finance them to the tune of $7.4 billion thereby enabling them to continue the “resistance”, they should be left to fend for themselves.

Rather than force Israel to freeze settlement activity thereby removing time as an issue it should allow Israel to build to its heart’s content thereby forcing the Palestinians to compromise quickly rather than to allow an erosion of their position in a final settlement.

Rather than force Israel to make goodwill gestures which merely encourages intransigence, it should force the Palestinians to make goodwill gestures. Whatever resistance Israelis have to the “peace process”, it will be reduced with such real gestures.

This is so obvious that one must conclude that the peace process is designed to continue the conflict rather than end it.

I should point out that no one is demanding peace at the end of the process. You will recall that one of the things Arafat balked at at Camp David, was signing an “end of conflict agreement”. Today no one is even mentioning such a thing and the Arab League is only offering “normalization” whatever that means..

Israel knows this. That is why it is demanding, so far, recognition as a Jewish state. If there was going to be a real peace agreement and a real peace, there would be no need to demand this recognition. Israel, as a sovereign state, could be what it wanted to be. Unfortunately, such recognition if it is given, will be a poor substitute for real peace.

The Arabs are refusing such recognition because their ultimate goal is to destroy Israel as a Jewish state. This they cannot accept. They also would not accept Israel with a Jewish majority even if it were a state like any other. They want Palestine to include Israel and the Jews there to become dhimmis. The peace process is just one step along the way.

The peace process, from Israel’s point of view, is simply a negotiated withdrawal from the Westbank as opposed to the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza.

Here’s a good place to meditate if your reaction is “Exactly! And so it should be.”

To my mind, whether Israel just withdraws or negotiates terms of withdrawal or signs a peace agreement, as with Egypt, it makes little difference as the Arabs don’t and won’t abide by the agreements.

Review of Heaven on Earth by Andrew Gow

RICHARD LANDES. Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience.
Richard Landes. Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience. New York: Oxford University Press. 2011. Pp. xix, 499. $35.00.
Andrew Gow
University of Alberta

This is an immense and wide-ranging book (a “craggy edifice,” as Garry Trompf rightly notes in his blurb for the back cover); all attempts to review it must fail in view of its breadth, diversity, and ambition. Richard Landes’s first “law of apocalyptic dynamics” is “Wrong does not mean inconsequential”; the second is “One person’s messiah is another’s antichrist.” The first “law” is in fact not a universal law, but a powerful historiographic program of revision: just because chroniclers and historians since antiquity have correctly noted that apocalyptic hopes and/or fears have always been dashed does not mean that such hopes were unimportant, transitory, superficial or merely crazed, as most historians have assumed and continue to claim.

Landes’s career as a scholar of millennialism began with a reassessment of the Truce of God and Peace of God movements of the late tenth and early eleventh centuries in Carolingian and Capetian France, around the year 1000 (during which feudal warlords were tamed and France was “blanketed by a white mantle of churches”). He has persistently argued that these episodes were mass movements of millennial enthusiasm, the core of which was elided and denied by clerical observers after the fact (or, in Landes’s catchy phrase, after their collapse: ex post defectu), and then radically downplayed in all subsequent historiography. Such activity Landes considers to be the work of “owls” commenting disapprovingly on the disproven nonsense so recently crowed by apocalyptic “roosters” and enjoining all to settle down and sleep some more, as it is still night, not yet the heralded new dawn.

Landes employs a bestiary of types based on a Talmudic story about a rooster and a bat waiting for the dawn, with the rooster wondering what is in it for the bat. The attempt to set up “ideal [animal] types” representing both apocalyptic prophets and (anti-apocalyptic, Augustinian) scholars is reminiscent of Jean de La Fontaine’s Fables; it is also a novel move that places both prophetic doomsayers and scholarly naysayers in the same notional category, based on what seems like a tacit premise that scholarly claims to objectivity (or at least to stand outside the fray) are hollow. They often are, but this leveling move pre-selects both data and possible approaches to it.

Landes’s core complaint about historians is that we have been unreasonably unwilling to contemplate the often indirect evidence of millennial and apocalyptic movements in the past because they left so few traces—as owls effaced the evidence and laughed roosters to scorn. One of Landes’s most prominent critics, the distinguished French medievalist Dominique Barthélémy, has repeatedly insisted that there is no (written) evidence for a mass millennial/millenarian movement around the year 1000, nor for a great “mutation” or change in Western society as a result. He is in prestigious company, with Jacques Le Goff and Jean Delumeau.

Article by David and Richard Landes for TNR Symposium on Zionism at 100

Looking through some of the pieces my father and I wrote, I came across this one. It’s attributed at the TNR site to Walter Lacquer, and I don’t have a copy of the original, but I’m pretty sure it was ours.

The Zionist Anomaly

Zionism poses the same anomaly to post-modern culture that Judaism posed to pre-modern and modern: a historical case that goes against type, that in some sense defies the “laws” that define human culture and behavior. The Jews themselves represent, of course, one of the great historical anomalies: the only cultural personality of late antiquity to survive, not only in a series of written works cherished also by other cultures, but as a people with a history and an intellectual community driving across millennia. The survival is the more notable because it was achieved without that sine qua non of survival: power, sovereignty, the might and right to protect itself and dominate others.

Of course, historians who do not love anomalies try to sweep this one aside as almost unworthy of attention. As Gavin Langmuir pointed out over three decades ago, no textbook deals seriously with the place of the Jews in medieval life. And this neglect is only the milder version of a much older, more widespread phenomenon, found high and low in Christian and Muslim cultures: the attempt to eliminate Jews as a voice in society. In the Latin West, this found expression in forced conversion and mass killing. Normally one does not put so much energy into silencing the insignificant.

On top of this anomaly comes Israel, the only national liberation movement of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to succeed in modernizing the society it created. (This is what such movements were presumably made for.) Most of the countries of the undeveloped world have failed here, even those with exceptional material endowments such as Uganda, Brazil and the oil producers of the Middle East. But here is Israel, poor in natural resources, beset by enemies, able in one generation to go from a Third World agricultural economy to one of the most effective producers pound for pound in the world. The story is familiar, so much so that many have grown tired of it. Yet this familiarity should not inure us to the accomplishment.

Article on 9-11 by David and Richard Landes in the New Republic

Going over some of the articles my father and I jointly published, I ran across this one from October 8, 2001.

Girl Power

BY DAVID S. LANDES AND RICHARD LANDES

Among the popular explanations for September 11′s cunning, devastating attacks on the United States is American support for Israel. The argument runs like this: If the United States had not aided and abetted the Muslim world’s primary enemy, we would not have become Islam’s enemy ourselves, and therefore would not have been a target for reprisals. That argument, however, is a dodge. Even if there were no Israel, the Muslim world would still likely feel deep and deepening hostility toward the West.

That hostility predates the formation of the Jewish State, and has its roots in the West’s growing cultural, political, economic, and military dominance over the lands of Islam, a dominance that has been building for centuries but was by no means inevitable, and which many Muslims find baffling and infuriating. Hundreds of years ago, Islamic civilization stood at the pinnacle of global achievement, politically and intellectually. Muslim empires ruled over the Middle East, stretched west to Spain and Portugal and east to India and the borderlands of China. Islam was deservedly reputed for its ecumenism, its ability to learn from and assimilate other societies. And then something went wrong.

Cultures of Development, Cultures of Impoverishment: Romney and Landes on Israelis and Palestinians

The following is a longer and linked version of the op-ed that appeared in the Wall Street Journal in 2012 in response to Romney’s comments of the difference between Israeli and Palestinian economic culture. At the time, I could only post a portion of the essay on my blog (i.e., material that was not in the Journal version). Here is the complete version.

To clarify what aspects of this essay specifically reflect my father’s thinking, I have put those passages in bold. But generally, I would say, he tended not to get embroiled in political fights and stuck to his specialties in historical matters, so in some senses these are sentiments he held but did not share publicly.

We did jointly publish a couple of essays in the New Republic, one in 1997 (the fiftieth anniversary of Zionism), and one on 9-11 in October of 2001, and given their tenor, I think he did not have any hard and fast position on not publishing his political ideas.

In rereading it, I am struck by how much subsequent events have borne out this analysis.

Cultures of Development, Cultures of Impoverishment

Mitt Romney’s comments in Jerusalem last week about the cultural dimensions of economic growth have raised a firestorm. Palestinian spokesman Saeb Erekat, (correctly) seeing an implied criticism at Palestinian culture (which Romney tried to deny), called Romney a racist and complained that the occupation stopped the “Palestinian economy from reaching its full potential.” Journalists then jumped on Erekat’s reaction to point out how Romney’s blunt partisanship for Israel has disqualified him as a broker for peace.

The comment and the reactions, however, reveal as much about the misunderstandings at play in the Middle East conflict, both socio-cultural and political, as they do about presidential politics. First, the issue of culture and economic development, in which Romney cited The Wealth and Poverty of Nations. Like so many other fields of social “science,” economists argue about whether development derives from cultural advantages or built-in natural advantages like resistance to disease, access to primary resources and location. Jared Diamond, author of the “evolution” inclined Guns, Germs and Steel, has written a NYT op-ed where he moves toward the middle (both) and tries to draw David Landes in with him.

But Israel (which neither book examined) and the Arab world (which only Wealth and Poverty examined) illustrate the primacy of culture as both necessary and sufficient. As Romney himself has earlier noted, Israel illustrates the sufficiency of culture alone: a country with no natural resources, an economic backwater even in the economic backwater of the Ottoman Empire, it rose from the bottom of the third world to the top of the first world, in a century: Israel, the Start-up Nation. The Arab nations, on the other hand, illustrate the necessity of (a certain kind of) culture: even those with vast petrodollars still have among the least productive economies in the world. Alas, Saudi Arabia’s major exports are oil and hatred.

NYT Obituary for David S. Landes by Douglas Martin

I’m posting the obit that Douglas Martin wrote in the NYT today. The comments about the Romney/Palestinian brouhaha bothered all us siblings. I’ve commented it in the text below.

David S. Landes, Historian and Author, Is Dead at 89

By DOUGLAS MARTIN

Published: September 7, 2013

David S. Landes, a distinguished Harvard scholar of economic history, saw tidal movements in the rise of seemingly small things. He suggested that the development of eyeglasses made precision tools possible. Maybe, he said, using chopsticks helped Asian workers gain the manual dexterity needed to make microprocessors.

DSL photo

Jane Reed/Harvard University
David S. Landes in 2002.

In his 482-page “Revolution in Time: Clocks and the Making of the Modern World” (1983), Professor Landes, who died last month at 89, examined the growth of the industrial age through the history of timepieces, tracing their origin to medieval European monasteries; monks, he wrote, needed something to tell them when to gather for a regular round of group prayer.
To Professor Landes, the development of timepieces — more than steamships — drove the industrial age by molding the very culture of capitalism. Factory owners, for example, awarded watches to punctual workers, while workers bought watches to make sure they were not being misused by the factory clock.

Professor Landes was preoccupied by the importance of culture in shaping economic and social progress or stagnation. His most influential work, “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor” (1998), answered the question posed in its title (a play on that of Adam Smith’s classic work) by pointing to the importance of the Protestant work ethic and European attitudes toward science and technology.
Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, acknowledged Professor Landes as an influence. “There are superior cultures and ours is one of them,” Mr. Romney wrote in his 2010 book, “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness.” “As David Landes observed, ‘Culture makes all the difference.’ ”

Eulogy for David Landes by his Daughter, Jane (Tuesday, August 20, 2013)

My father was the most brilliant person I ever knew.  His last years were tragic in many ways.  He had a stroke 5 years ago which left him unable to communicate in but the most rudimentary ways, unable to read more than a headline, unable to be in charge—which had always been his role.

Once in a while a spark of the old daddy peeked through.  Like a few weeks ago when we were sitting watching the news together and the newsman was talking about gerrymandering and suddenly I heard daddy say “It’s /ˈɡɛri/;mander.” So I said “I thought a g folllowed by an e or an i was soft.” And he said “There are exceptions.”  So I went home to look it up and wouldn’t you know, the work is named after a governor Gerry and was originally pronounced /ˈɡɛri/;mander, and only recently has been commonly pronounced /ˈɛriˌ/mander.

Or the time that Ed was trying to manage some mutual funds for my father and the lady at Vanguard said she needed daddy’s permission to talk to Ed. So he prepared her saying that daddy really couldn’t talk, that he understood but she probably woudn’t get more than a yes or no from him. The next morning, we went over to see him, explained what the lady would ask, called Vanguard and put him on the line and out of his mouth came “What can I do for you this morning young lady ?” Ed was mortified.

But mostly he was silent. His world narrowed. Sitting with Sonia and holding her hand defined its boundaries. For me and Richard and Alison, there was a classic and instantaneous role reversal.  We were taking care of him. And after Sonia died in April, his small world became a profoundly lonely one. It is not a surprise that he did not survive her for long. He got thinner, sadder, limper and faded away.

So I have spent the last couple days trying to put the earth back in its orbit. Trying to remember my father the way he was nearly all of my life—the master of the universe. Because that he surely was—our family’s universe, the academic universe, the Jewish  universe. He was a force to be loved, admired and to be reckoned with in each of these. He set high standards and we all did our best to meet them.

Eulogy for David S. Landes by his Son, Richard (Tuesday, August 20, 2013)

My beloved father David was a towering intellect and a great mensch, a demanding teacher and a loving father.

He skipped four grades on the way to graduating college at 18 years old.

He loved detective stories and puzzles, and became an adept of decryption after reading Poe’s “The Gold Bug,” in which deciphering a secret message plays a central role in the plot. Already as a teenager, he followed US Army Signal Corps mail-order courses in cryptanalysis, and when drafted in 1943, he joined the cryptanalysis team deciphering Japanese messages.

He was omnivorous in his intellectual pursuits: finishing at the top of the NY State Regents exams in topics as varied as Math, Latin, and History. He used to read the dictionary on the toilet, and developed a prodigious vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation.

He loved to argue, loved when people argued with him, and for us children, he would always listen to our arguments, and if we could convince him, change his mind about some decision he had made about our lives.

But it was so hard to argue with someone who constantly corrected you:

the adjective may be frē′kwənt, but the verb is “to frəquənt′,”

and “if I were you…” is subjunctive contrary to fact, but “if I was on time to today’s funeral, it may have been unwōnted, but not accidental…”

He loved Ping pong and squash, both of which he played with talent, intelligence, and ferocious competitiveness. In addition to being the runner-up for the B-class West Coast championship while still at Berkeley, he prided himself on playing and occasionally the beating the top four players on Harvard’s championship team, not because he was better, but because he played smarter. For him, squash was a physical chess match. I basically had to wait till he got older and slower before I could beat him; and he never let me win.

In fact his passion for squash taught me something profound about his love of my mother, Sonia. I remember well one time he and I were watching the national squash championships at the Hemenway gym at Harvard. We had perfect seats in the midst of overflowing stands. The match was spectacular: two players, grand masters, who took ten, fifteen shots to set up a winner, and who had fought to a two-two tie. At the beginning of the rubber match, my father looked at his watch and announced, “I have to go.” “What?” I said, looking at him as if he had lost his mind. (Teenagers are so good at controlling their tone of voice.) “Your mom wants me home. We have a dinner date tonight.” And with that he left. Only now, decades later, do I really understand that choice, that when the passions of life stack up against each other, what makes your true love happy tops any vicarious pleasure.

Sonia this love of his life, is a tale which has inspired not just us, his children, but to hear from their friends and even our friends, it has inspired many with the real possibility of fairy tales coming true, from true love at (almost) first sight to sixty-nine years of happily ever after. One reason they lived so happily together was their patience with each others’ foibles. We used to joke that if they got vanity plates, my mother’s would say IMLOST, and my father’s would say, IMLATE.

Terrorist chic en France, de l’exposition du Jeu de Paume, à Al Durah, à Mohamed Merah

Terrorist chic en France, de l’exposition du Jeu de Paume, à Al Durah, à Mohamed Merah

Une nouvelle exposition controversée célèbre les meurtriers de masse et élève la propagande de guerre au niveau de grand art.

Richard Landes – 30 juillet 2013

Traduction d’Isabelle Sfez

Pour consulter liens hyperliens, consultez l’article originale.

Cet été le musée national français du Jeu de Paume, en son temps célèbre pour ses accrochages de peinture impressionniste, héberge une étonnante exposition de photographies, Phantom House. Le travail d’une femme bédouine israélienne, Ahlam Shibli, rassemblant une série éclectique de photos qui dépeignent un certain nombre de groupes différents, dont les maisons ne sont pas les leurs, ou qui n’en ont pas – des gens qui “vivent sous oppression”.  Il s’agit de Bédouins “trackers” (pisteurs, traqueurs) qui s’enrôlent dans l’armée israélienne, de “palestiniens” vivant en Galilée et en Jordanie, d’enfants polonais dans des orphelinats, de militants LGBT du Moyen-Orient vivant dans des pays occidentaux, de français de Corrèze pendant l’occupation nazie, et, de loin les plus élaborés des séries de clichés, les familles de “martyrs” qui “résistèrent” à “l’occupation”, debout avec les photos, les affiches et les tombes de leurs proches “disparus”.

L’exposition a suscité une controverse prévisible. Ces prétendus “martyrs”, qui ont “pris le contrôle de leur propre mort”, objets d’une ardente dévotion par leur famille, sont en fait des meurtriers de masse qui se sont tués eux-mêmes dans le but d’assassiner le plus possible d’enfants, de femmes, de civils.

Comme la plupart des récits palestiniens, ces photos ne laissent aucune place à “l’autre”, exceptée celle de l’oppresseur colonial sans visage. Pour une femme juive, mécène du musée, l’expérience fut horrible. En regardant ces photos de “martyrs”, elle a reconnu ceux qui avaient fait exploser des restaurants, des bus, des marchés qui ont été choisis comme cible justement pour la présence d’enfants dans ces lieux.

Les réactions de protestations outrées affluèrent. La réponse du musée fut d’afficher un avis soulignant que cette exposition n’était pas de la propagande, et, à propos de l’artiste, précisant qu’elle n’était “pas une militante, qu’elle ne jugeait pas”.

Evidemment, tout cela est absurde. Si ce n’est pas de la propagande (comme la fameuse pipe qui n’en est pas une), c’est une exposition qui présente avec bienveillance des photos de propagande. L’artiste émet assurément des jugements, en présentant ses cousins bédouins qui servent dans l’armée israélienne, comme pathétiquement vendus à un régime colonial (ils apparaissent étonnement confortables et bien dans leur peau sur les photos), elle émaille son exposition de victimes françaises de l’occupation nazie, commentant la façon dont ils se retournèrent après la Libération et devinrent des oppresseurs coloniaux en Indochine et en Algérie. La parfaite admiration pour la “résistance à l’occupation” des Palestiniens, calquée sur celle de la résistance aux nazis, joue sur un thème commun, grotesque, de propagande palestinienne – que les israéliens sont les nouveaux nazis et les palestiniens les nouveaux juifs.

American Vanity and Ambition Plays the Fool in Middle East Political Culture

I’ve posted some items on the upcoming “negotiations.” Here I just want to draw your attention to three recent analyses on key American players in this charade of negotiations: Kerry and Indyk, both of whom consider messing with the only relatively stable situation in the Middle East an extremely short-sighted career “win.” Talk about making others pay for your fifteen minutes of fame.

Indyk: Noah Pollak, “What does Martin Indyk Believe

Between 2006 and 2009, no relevant facts on the ground in the Middle East had changed: Iran was still pursuing nuclear weapons, Bashar al-Assad was still the dictator of Syria, and Hezbollah was still entrenched in Lebanon. Only one fact had changed, and it was a Washington fact: Barack Obama had become the president, and he had made “engagement” with Syria a pillar of his Middle East policy. Indyk dutifully discarded his previous objections to the idea.

Give him his due: His shameless positioning and audacious reversals have been successful where they were intended to count – not in making “the cause of peace his life mission,” as Kerry said about him yesterday, but in advancing his career. Step one was showing his loyalty to Obama after betting on the wrong candidate in 2008; step two was burnishing his image as a tough-minded veteran of the Middle East who understands why things went wrong in Obama’s first term and can be counted on to get it right in his second term. On the substance, it’s been an awful, tawdry display. But as a matter of Washington careerism, Indyk’s press conference yesterday, where he was introduced and praised by the secretary of state, is inarguable proof of success.

Kerry: Lee Smith, “Requiem for the Peace Process

The peace process has entered its mannerist phase—it is nothing but a series of empty elegant formalisms. Does Martin Indyk, Kerry’s newly named Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations, really need to add a sequel to his memoirs of the peace process, Innocent Abroad—Again?

The Media’s “Take” on Negotiations: How Palestinian Cogwar has Checkmated Israel in Western Public Opinion

My friend Avi Bell sent me the following. While exaggerated for effect, it’s a recognizable Catch 22 for Israel and a “get-out-of-responsibility-free card” for the Palestinians. Heads we lose, tails, they win.

It’s a good example of a complete cogwar victory for the Palestinians. It shows that and how (but not why) our current herd of independent journalists so extensively plays voluntary dhimmi to the Palestinian cause. When Riccardo Cristiano told Yasser Arafat that his network always reported according to “the procedures for reporting from the Palestinian territories,” he meant, among many other things, this:

If Israel refuses to negotiate, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because it refuses to negotiate.

If the Palestinians refuse to negotiate, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians can see negotiations with Israel are pointless.

If Israel makes preconditions to negotiations, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because it is trying to avoid negotiations.

If the Palestinians make preconditions to negotiations, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians have to force Israel to be serious in the negotiations.

If Israel makes no offer of peace, that proves Israel is not interested in peace.

If the Palestinians make no offer of peace, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians can see that making offers of peace with Israel are pointless.

If Israel makes an offer of peace and the Palestinians reject it, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because Israel is not willing to make the kind of offer the Palestinians would accept.

There are variations on this, e.g.,:

If Arabs make war, but offer to end it, that proves that Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because the Arabs offered peace. (Thomas Friedman/Arab “peace” initative)

If Israel makes war, but offers to end it, that proves that Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel made war. (Defensive Pillar, Lebanon II, etc.)

If Arabs attack, that proves Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel provoked the Arabs to attack.

If Israel attacks, that proves Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel attacked.

If Palestinians carry out acts of terrorism, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because the Palestinians feel they have no choice but to carry out acts of terrorism.

If Palestinians try to carry out acts of terrorism, but Israel foils them, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because Israel is carrying out anti-terror actions against the Palestinians even while there is no terrorism.

If Palestinians don’t try to carry out acts of terrorism, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because the Palestinians are good and innocent and Israel uses terrorism as an excuse to mistreat Palestinians.

Now why the intelligentsia would want to double handicap the Israelis and double empower the Palestinians may strike a sound and sober reader as not only unfair, but pretty stupid, given the kinds of voices that dominate the Palestinian public sphere. But to people inebriated by their power to “level the playing field” by giving the weak “underdog” a break, it’s something virtually no one in the news media would question.

Suicidal intelligentsia’s anyone?

Leavitt advises on Israeli cogwar against the EU’s ill-advised move against the “occupation”

Stephen Leavitt at the Jewish Press has made some excellent suggestions on how Israel should deal with the latest EU Initiative about stigmatizing anything they deem “occupied territory.” His approach is a model of cognitive war strategy: understand when your foe, overconfident in his strength, has overstepped, and take steps that publicly reveal where the real power lies.

In this case the Europeans actually believe and acted on their auto-stupefying poco model that says beyond the Green Line is “occupied territories,” that the Palestinians are innocent indigenous victims and the Israelis colonial, imperialist racists, and that they are heroes of the (grateful) oppressed by siding with the Palestinians.

PS. the picture JPress provided of Catherine Ashton and the chicken leg is priceless.

How the EU Will Reverse Itself, in Three Easy Steps

Be firm and consistent – they will fold.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton marking the V sign for Victory with a chicken leg, standing next to former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, January 6, 2011.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton marking the V sign for Victory with a chicken leg, standing next to former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, January 6, 2011.
Photo Credit: Issam Rimawi / flash90

Yesterday’s announcement by the European Union, to block funding to any organization that has direct or indirect ties over the Green Line (Jerusalem, Golan, Judea and Samaria), unless they are a leftwing organization, has shocked Israel.

The overt anti-Semitism, the transparent politicization, and the blatant chutzpa took Israel by surprise. Worse, at first it felt as if Israel were trapped in a corner with no options to respond.

But reality is different.

The EU is in bad shape. It has economic problems, social problems, and credibility problems.

With its most recent action, the EU overplayed its hand, not considering the backlash the decision could cause.

Some responses Israel may choose would hurt the EU quite a bit.

THE PEACE PROCESS

In March 2012, following a UN attack on Israel that went too far, Israel announced a boycott of the UN Human Rights Council, declaring it a “superfluous and extravagant body” that Israel would have no connection to anymore.

This caused an earthquake in the UN, and it still threatens to destroy the credibility and legitimacy of the council.

Most importantly, Israel’s declaration has forced the HRC to take clear steps to correct itself.

The first action Israel must take here as well is the most obvious one: the EU craves legitimacy on the international stage. With wildcat strikes hitting Greece, Spain, and Portugal, to name but three ailing EU members, the organization must prove it is relevant and credible.

Israel should expel the EU from the Peace Process.

Israel should declare—something Prime Minister Netanyahu was hinting at in his Tuesday night statement—that the EU and all its member states will no longer be considered honest brokers, and no Israeli official will meet with them on any issue related to the Peace Process. It only takes a simple statement, and it will be enough to cause them to capitulate.

Any member state wishing to be included in the peace process must sign a statement that the territories of east Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights are in dispute and their fate will be determined through direct negotiations. It must also commit to disregarding the EU directive regarding those same territories.

Be firm and consistent – they will fold.

Israel is an important trade partner with Europe, and its third largest trade partner in the region following the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Israel buys from Europe more than it sells. A retaliatory trade war and boycott in response to their expulsion from the Peace Process would hurt the already flailing European economy, it’s the last thing they want, and not a step they would take in response.

DIVIDE AND CONQUOR

Next Israel must immediately pass the Foreign Agents Act, with an additional stipulation.

As the EU’s declaration makes it clear that they will now only be financially supporting NGOs on the far left, Israel must make it clear that any NGOs receiving EU funding are de facto foreign agents. These NGOs fund raising will be curtailed, their access to Israeli government officials would be restricted, and their entry into the Knesset will be forbidden.

Watch the left wing NGOs quietly pressuring the EU to back off their directive.

All it takes is a firm conviction on our part.

REPLACEMENT THERAPY

The third step is financial.

The EU invested close to 1 billion dollars in research grants and investments, some of which could now be lost.

Israel should approach private, patriotic wealthy Jews — Sheldon Adelson, who put his money where his mouth was this past U.S. election, comes to mind — to pick up the slack. In return, those who invest in Israeli research will reap the benefits in royalties, shared patent ownership and so on. They could stand to make a lot of money.

Stand your ground, don’t blink, they’ll blink first.

All this reminds of the joke about the Israeli at British passport control. “Occupation?” “No, just visiting.”

Why is the peace settlement that’s so obvious, so elusive?

Well intentioned people like John Kerry cannot understand why it’s so hard to make peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, despite the fact that “everyone knows” what the eventual settlement will be, and, in the opinion of one BBC reporter, “it could be solved with an email.”

Many, frustrated with the lack of movement towards so obvious and mutually beneficial a goal, tend to blame Israel. This includes not only hard-line anti-Israelis like Walt, Mearsheimer, and Carter, but also good liberals like the editors and op-ed writers at the NYT, Peter Beinart at Open Zion, and all the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobbyists at J-Street. Indeed, at the talk I gave at the Association of Isreal Studies last month, most of the objections centered on my changing the subject from the real problem, “the settlements.”

And, unquestionably, the Israelis are pretty reluctant to make the concessions these well-intentioned people urge upon them, often as thinly veiled threats in the form of eventual boycotts, divestments and sanctions. This reluctance, critics readily attribute to the irredentist desire of the religious zealots who have settled what they call Judea and Samaria and want to hold onto the them, which certainly is one factor, among a relatively small minority in Israel (certainly not an electoral majority).

What makes their arguments hold water with the larger population of Israelis, most of whom would be willing to give up the West Bank in exchange for peace, is the pervasive evidence that the Palestinians would use whatever territory they got not, as J-Street assures us, to build a peaceful nation of their own, but as a launching pad for further attacks… in other words the “Phased Plan” for the destruction of Israel, formally adopted by the PLO in 1974 (after the one stage destruction failed decisively), and never repealed (despite the Oslo “Peace Process” obligation to do so and the assurance of many journalists that they had done so).

To have an insight into what the evidence that Palestinian culture is pervasively hostile to any kind of peace with the Israelis that leaves them any piece of the land “from the river to the sea,” one needs above all to look at the culture of incitement that brainwashes Palestinian youth to hatred. And in addition to a formal “incitement index” established by the Israeli government, one can find good examples of the hate-mongering, genocidal discourse that passes for a Palestinian culture at Palestinian Media Watch.

For only the most recent example of this grotesque phenomenon, see below:

Little girls on PA TV:
Jews are the “most evil among creations,
barbaric monkeys, wretched pigs,”
condemned to “humiliation and hardship”

Note the language of “humiliation” which is the fate of all dhimmi, and which Israelis, by definition, and unacceptably, escape.

by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

Palestinian Authority TV continues to promote Islam-based hate speech and Antisemitism, voiced by little children. In this latest example, two sisters recited a poem that included the following demonization of Jews:

“You who murdered Allah’s pious prophets (i.e., Jews in Islamic tradition)
Oh, you who were brought up on spilling blood
You have been condemned to humiliation and hardship
Oh Sons of Zion, oh most evil among creations
Oh barbaric monkeys, wretched pigs.”

The poem also taught that Jerusalem is not for Jews, because Jerusalem “vomits” out the Jews who are said to be “filth” and “impure”:
“Jerusalem vomits from within it your impurity
Because Jerusalem, you impure ones, is pious, immaculate
And Jerusalem, you who are filth, is clean and pure.”

Palestinian Media Watch has documented previous examples of hate speech and Antisemitism voiced by children on official PA TV, including:

For more examples click here.

The following is the transcript of the poem recited by the little girls on the PA TV program Palestine This Morning:

PA TV reporter: ”Let’s meet these girls who want to recite a short poem.”
Girl 1: ”I do not fear the rifle because your throngs are in delusion and ignorant herds.
Jerusalem is my land, Jerusalem is my honor
Jerusalem is my days and my wildest dreams.
Oh, you who murdered Allah’s pious prophets (i.e., Jews in Islamic tradition)
Oh, you who were brought up on spilling blood
You have been condemned to humiliation and hardship.
Oh Sons of Zion, oh most evil among creations
Oh barbaric monkeys, wretched pigs
Girl 2: Jerusalem is not your den
Jerusalem opposes your throngs
Jerusalem vomits from within it your impurity
Because Jerusalem, you impure ones, is pious, immaculate
And Jerusalem, you who are filth, is clean and pure.
I do not fear barbarity.
As long as my heart is my Quran and my city
As long as I have my arm and my stones
As long as I am free and do not barter my cause
I will not fear your throngs
I will not fear the rifle.”
[Official Palestinian Authority TV, July 3, 2013]

Landes at AIS, Los Angeles: The Constriction of Western Intelligentsia – Honor/Shame Dynamics

Talk I gave at the Association of Israel Studies at UCLA in Los Angeles on June 25, 2013.

Karsenty fined 7000 Euro for Defamation

This is a victory of a state owned press using its immense financial and political resources to bully independent critics. in principle, this is bad news for freedom of speech (which as Brandeis famously pointed out demands that we have a thick skin, and which Charles Enderlin famously does not have). Given the terrible damage that Al Durah did – a poster-boy for the linked phenomena of virulent anti-Semitism and global Jihad – this decision is nothing short of suicidal for a Western democracy.

For further details see posts at www.aldurah.com

Conning the Public: The Clash between Lethal Journalism and Journalistic Ethics

One of the most salient features of lethal journalism is the stark conflict between journalistic ethics and the actions of journalists who purvey lethal narratives as news. Given the (inexplicably?) overriding commitment of some journalists to these narratives no matter how obviously false, they must avoid facing up to their professional commitments to accuracy and fairness. Often this leads to a situation of a “public secret” in which they privately admit things (they’re intimidated, the Palestinians stage stuff all the time) which they publicly deny.

CAMERA has a brief video about just this kind of situation. For reasons that perhaps only he (and Bob Simon) can explain, the public face of the station – “if you make a mistake, own up to it” is the opposite of the way they make their sausages. Is the man a hypocrite? Does he not know what he’s doing? Does he think it doesn’t matter when the subject of the mistake is Israel? Is he, like Charles Enderlin, someone who pushes cognitive dissonance to the point of dissociation?

 

By the way, the comment about Bethlehem surrounded by wall and therefore an open-air prison is only the most egregious of errors in Simon’s report, which is a classic example of lethal journalism disguised as investigative journalism.